Toyota World Hybrid Tour Shows What We're Missing

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Toyota is flexing its hybrid chops with a special traveling road show of the company's hybrid cars. The automaker recently brought the automotive media to a private test track in southeast Michigan to try out not only the cars it sells in the U.S., such as the venerable Prius and Camry Hybrid, but also a selection of international offerings that aren't available here. We were treated to a closed loop handling course followed by a highway-speed 3-mile oval and all day to drive the hybrid vehicles as many times as we liked.

Perhaps the biggest take-away from this event is how differently Toyota tunes its vehicles depending on the market in which they're sold.

By Aaron Bragman | September 4, 2013 | Comments (3)

Recall Alert: 2012 Toyota Yaris

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Toyota is recalling just 74 model-year 2012 versions of the Yaris due to a problem with the electronic power-steering system, the automaker announced today.

In the affected vehicles, moisture contamination in the power-steering control module could cause the relay to short circuit. A loss of power-steering assist and an increase in steering effort at lower speeds could result. "If this condition should occur, the Electronic Power Steering (EPS) warning light on the instrument panel will illuminate and a buzzer will sound to alert the driver that the system is not operating as designed," Toyota said in a statement.

Toyota will notify affected owners through the mail, and dealers will inspect and replace the affected parts for free. The automaker has not yet provided a notification scheduled, but owners can call Toyota at 800-331-4331 for more info.

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By Jennifer Geiger | July 3, 2013 | Comments (0)

How Much Stuff Can You Fit in a Toyota Yaris?

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We usually make our weekend plans long before I know what I'll be driving, and my family's plans don't change for anything—not even a 2012 Toyota Yaris. The plans: grocery shopping, picking up a large birthday gift and hauling some shrubs for a landscaping project. The challenge: How much stuff could I cram into Toyota's subcompact? Especially after seeing how it didn't come close to the competition in our recent $16,000 Subcompact Shootout when it comes to cargo space.

The Yaris fit more than you'd think, actually, but first let's go back to 2007, when it first hit the market. I drove it then and was underwhelmed by its pokey powertrain, lack of ride composure and high level of road noise. It scored points, however, for its decent fuel economy and its maneuverability.

A lot has changed since then—more with me than the car. I carry a lot more stuff now. As a homeowner and mom, I have more baggage than I did in 2007, which means there's always a child-safety seat in the backseat, a diaper bag in the trunk, and when we grocery shop, we fill the car to the brim. Last weekend was like any other, except the Yaris is one of the smallest vehicles I've tested in a long time.

By Jennifer Geiger | April 23, 2012 | Comments (5)

Smart ForTwo Comes Out on Top in Roof-Strength Test

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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has released the results of its first crash test to determine roof strength for small cars. Only one of the six cars tested — the Smart ForTwo — earned the top rating of Good. The Honda Fit, Hyundai Accent, Mini Cooper and Toyota Yaris earned Acceptable ratings, while the Chevy Aveo managed only a Marginal rating.

These new tests are important because they will be included in the 2010 Top Safety Pick awards that IIHS hands out. The roof tests require a car to withstand a force four times the vehicle’s weight per 5 inches of crushed area. That produces a strength-to-weight ratio. A ratio of 4 is the minimum to earn a Good rating, 3.25 is minimum for an Acceptable rating and 2.5 for Marginal. Anything below that is a Poor. The Smart Fortwo earned a 5.4 rating.

IIHS points to rollover crashes accounting for 10,000 deaths a year as the main reason to add the roof test to its side, rear and frontal crash tests. However, IIHS points out that while a strong roof helps prevent injuries after a rollover, the cars themselves should be more stable to prevent such accidents. The Smart ForTwo has a three-star rollover rating from the government, while the Fit, Cooper and Yaris have four-star rollover ratings.

Last year, 84 vehicles earned Top Safety Pick status, including the Honda Fit, which looks to lose that status with its score of Acceptable in the roof test. 

By David Thomas | August 19, 2009 | Comments (5)

Recall Alert: 2006-07 Toyota Yaris

07_toyotoyarisedan Toyota has issued a recall for 130,000 Toyota Yaris vehicles from the 2006 and 2007 model years. In a statement from Toyota, the automaker warned that the mechanism that tightens the seat belt strap expels a gas in the event of a “severe front-end collision.” This gas could cause a nearby foam pad — used for sound insulation — to ignite and start a fire.

According to Toyota, this has not actually happened in the U.S., but the recall includes 1.3 million vehicles worldwide that are based on the same platform as the Yaris (on other shores, that would be the Vitz and the Ractis). They didn’t comment on whether or not this phenomenon has been reported elsewhere.

Toyota is in the process of contacting owners by letter. Dealers will replace the defective mechanism free of charge. For more information, contact Toyota at 888-270-9371 or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hotline at 888-327-4236.

Toyota Recalls 130,000 US Yaris Cars, 1.3M Total (Forbes)

By Stephen Markley | January 28, 2009 | Comments (0)

2009 Toyota Yaris Pricing, Pics, Plus New Four-Door Hatch

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People who shop economy cars were quite excited when Toyota announced it would bring the four-door hatchback version of its Yaris to the U.S. for 2009. It joins the existing two-door hatch and sedan in the lineup. All three will go on sale later this month.

The base two-door hatch starts at $12,205, $655 more than the 2008 model. New this year across the model lineup are standard side-impact airbags, a very important safety feature for such a small car. Estimated mileage for all three is 29/35 mpg city/highway with the automatic transmission and 29/36 mpg with the manual. Check below for full prices and pictures.

By David Thomas | August 6, 2008 | Comments (30)

2009 Toyota Yaris Adding Standard Side Airbags

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Today, Toyota confirmed it would make side airbags standard for the 2009 model year Yaris. According to IIHS crash tests, the 2008 Yaris got top marks when equipped with the then-optional side airbags. Without them, it received the lowest side crash-test scores. 

Toyota spokesman Bill Kwong said there’s no official word that the four-door Yaris hatchback — currently on sale in other markets — will go on sale in the U.S. when the rest of the 2009 lineup goes on sale this fall, but the four-door hatch was mentioned during a recent conference call with Toyota executives and the media.

With the current hunger for all things efficient and affordable here in the States, we’d think selling the four-door Yaris hatchback would be a smart move. Standard side airbags make the 2009 Yaris a much smarter choice regardless.

By David Thomas | July 2, 2008 | Comments (22)

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